Love Thy Neighbor

 Friday, October 26, 2007

Recently, this past Sunday, our pastor issued the congregation a challenge. Show the love of God by Baking something for your neighbor. Our family decided on chocolate chip cookies. After leaving church I was excited about the prospect of baking something for a couple of my neighbors. What better gesture than baking something for someone else. It shows them that you were thinking of them and action is always better than words.
I've already baked my first batch of cookies for the neighbors on the left of us. It has always given me great pleasure to do things for others. I went over with a plate of hot chocolate chip cookies in hand. They loved them. I have one more batch of cookies to bake for another neighbor. But this one is a bit tricky. Let me explain.

Everyone has that one neighbor that will drive you crazy and test the limits of your niceness. This is the neighbor were you ask God to hold your tongue so that nothing mean or harsh comes out of your mouth, even if they would do good with a good thrashing of the tongue. I was standing in the kitchen the other night talking to Richard and said, "I don't want to do this, its way too hard." He replied "that's the entire reason for all of this, pursuing and showing the love of God to those we'd rather run from."

This particular neighbor has the tendency to say exactly what's on her mind, no matter how out of place it is, thinks that his/her child can do no wrong and mine are somehow the blame for whatever may happen with his/her child. Has used some inappropriate language in the past regarding my race, after been repeatedly told that the N word is not to be used in my presence. Let me just say it was never used in a malicious way. The list is endless. Since living in this house and getting to know this particular neighbor I'd rather not know this neighbor. In my mind I can see giving her the cookies and then her invading my life at the most inopportune moments.

In that instance I knew that this is something that I have to do. Anyone can do the easy thing, but the hard thing...that takes something else.......that takes humility, and the love of God. So with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies in hand I will love my neighbor and let God take care of the rest.


Having a form of Godliness.......

 Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I can't tell you how many times I've seen things like this on television. Pastors like these are dangerous to the body of Christ. They do not care about people just themselves. The love of money is what drives them. I could say so much more, but I will post more about false pastors.


Beauty in the Desert

 Sunday, October 14, 2007

I often think of the children of Israel when they found themselves walking in the wilderness for 40 years. What should have only taken maybe a few days or a week took them 40 years to get through. What was it that caused them to close their eyes to God? What was it that drove them to do the things they done? Why did they not trust?

As I ask these questions I am brought to my own realization that I've done exactly the same thing. Through my own blindness, veiled eyes, and just being plain hard-headed I some how lost my sight.

Do we chalk it all up to human nature? Or do we see the sinful condition of our own heart in the process of going through the deserts and valleys in life. Traveling through the desert is different for all of us. But while traveling do we ever stop and see the beauty in the desert? Yes, there is beauty in the wilderness. And I fail to see it at times and stages in my life. The Israelites missed out on so much. Through their trials and errors we see ourselves, our own condition of our hearts.

Isaiah 44:20 states "He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, "Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?" WOW! No wonder we are continually finding ourselves in the wilderness being purged of a deluded heart that leads us straight into ______ (name your vice.) There is beauty in the desert, its not hidden, we've just blinded ourselves but thank God that He chastises those who are His.

Psalm 19:13 :Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression." May I add.....BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY


Peace Like A River

 Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you."

Peace evades me. My mind is constantly turning. I can't concentrate. I'm agitated. Easily irritated. Not feeling much like doing anything. Chaos swirls around me like a tornado. Help me keep my focus on you. Not distracted by other things.


Talking To Strangers

 Thursday, October 4, 2007

This past Sunday evening at church our pastor was talking about our mission as a body of Christ and a new missional church planting in the tri-cities. Our mission is to free people to embrace go to the people instead of waiting for them to come to us. In this area this is huge. There is not one place in this town that you can go without the presence of at least 20 churches in a 1 mile radius. We live in the Bible Belt. Every Sunday churches are full but there is something missing. It has been more about going to church than having a relationship with Jesus. It is more religion than relationship. If you ask someone if they're saved you'll get (1) I go to church and 2 (I am a Methodist, Baptist, etc...) . The one answer I'm looking for I usually never hear. After leaving church that Sunday evening my mind kept coming back to how I can be a light to others. I'm no longer in the work force, and I'm not in school right now. I'm a wife and mother of 4 children and caregiver to 2 others. Time is spent with my family all day. But God gave me my answer Tuesday, October 2.

Just about everyday I take my son Riley, and the 2 young brothers that I babysit during the week to the playground that is pictured above. This Playground is the cream of the crop! People come from all over to visit the state park just for its playground. This playground was specifically built for the handicapped and goes all the way back past the shelter in the picture. I will take some pictures and post later the entire playground so you can see for yourself.

On this particular day, as I watched the children play in the sand area (can't see in this picture) I shared a bench with a wonderful lady. It started with a simple "hello, how are you". We had a wonderful conversation and I learned a lot about this precious woman. She grew up in Connecticut, former Air Force, has lived in this area about 10 years, husband traded her in for a younger woman (her words not mine) grew up Roman Catholic and is now attending a Methodist Church, First marriage ended in divorce because husband was an alcoholic, was raised in a home where the mother was an alcoholic.

This is a lot of information, considering that I just met her. However, strangers will divulge information freely to people they don't know because its just easier. Of the many things that we discussed there was one issue that struck a chord with me. While in the Air Force she was invited to a black church by one of her friends. And if you don't know, it doesn't matter what black church you go to we are not a reserved people when it comes to church. She went on to tell me how scared she was in the midst of people who freely shouted praises, sang with soul, clapped and swayed as they worshipped, amened and waved their handkerchiefs throughout the service. But in the midst of feeling out of place she marveled at these people in this church freely worshiping God. She envied that because all her life had been, as she put it, living the typical Catholic life of hail Mary's and chanting. For the first time she had witnessed freedom in Christ!

As we continued to talk I was able to share some things. As my good friend Kristina said today as we talked on the phone, "all of our lives we have been told to never talk to strangers, which was for our own safety and is a good thing, however, that has spilled over in our adult lives and has become a hindrance in our ability to witnessing to others." Even if the subject of Christ, God never comes up, we are still witnessing to Christ. That old adage "build it and they will come" just isn't effective and isn't what Christ done. Christ went out and we are to do the same. You can be a witness to anyone, anywhere.

People are so imprisoned with religion that they've totally missed Christ, and some have never been properly introduced to Him. Have you talked to any strangers lately?


It's Not Fair?

 Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Jonah is a man that hardly anyone can forget. Mainly known for being swallowed by a fish, Jonah is not a fish tale story. No, this story is about God's unfailing love and compassion for all mankind. Jonahs a man who threw one heck of a temper tantrum. I often wonder how he fared out in the end after all was said and done. Did he ever grasp the unfailing and infinite love of God? Did he ever come to learn that God's ways are not our ways? Did he ever learn that God owes no one any explanation?

Jonah, like so many, had more concern over a plant that was eaten away by a worm than he had for the people that God himself had called him to minister to. Not to mention that God, himself, grew the plant to shade Jonah from the heat of the sun. Even though Jonah threw a tantrum worthy of a 4 year-old, God's compassion and love for Jonah is evident. He posed a question to Jonah, "Why are you so angry?"

We all have a little of Jonah. At times its hard to see through our anger and our judgment, but it's there. Stamping our feet, flinging our hands in the air saying, "Do you not know what they did to me? They don't deserve any mercy!" And like the Father that God is, he simply replies "Why are you so angry?"

God's love is limitless. It is our ways that are not fair. I would have liked to known if Jonah ever came to this realization and saw just how skewed his view was? He saw the city repent and just never got it. I'm the first one to raise my hand and tell you I didn't get it either. In all honesty, its a little harder to have compassion, or love for anyone that's hurt you or done things to you that you'd never speak to another soul. In my minds eye I'd say impossible, without God. They've sown the wind and they will reap the whirlwind. Yet, mercy and compassion, and forgiveness is not limited, God freely gives to all who ask and repent.

God's mercy, unfailing love, and compassion is for all , even the one's we've written off!